Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard plenty about Hurricane Irma in recent days. Most of the time when these weather events happen, it is far from home (for me) and although I watch with interest and care for those affected by such events, it is far-removed. I’ve never had personal ties to a hurricane or tornado or any other “Act of God”. But this time is different, and I’ve found myself glued to the news, searching for hope that Hurricane Irma will stop the calamity and stay out at sea. But as with the truckloads of “thoughts and prayers” in such times, my hope has done absolutely nothing.
Bri and Renny live in South Florida, directly in the path of hurricane Irma. As a result, Bri’s week has been filled with anxiety, stress and difficult decisions: do they stay or do they go? She’s been prepping on her own and carrying the weight of this stress all by herself. She is an infinitely patient and strong person; resilient, too. But this is so much for someone to carry on their own, and frankly, it is agony for me to be so far away from her, unable to offer any help except for emotional support. Sometimes (okay, all the time) being in a long-distance relationship can really suck.
A few days ago, Bri decided to pack up with Renny and drive to North Carolina, where they would stay with a friend. A day later, it looked like Irma was going to be turning eastward, possibly not even hitting land, so Bri changed her mind and decided to stay put.
This morning, she woke up to scarier news. Not only was Irma not turning eastward, she was coming directly for them. It is looking like the impact Irma will have on South Florida may be catastrophic. Dealing with that devastation and potentially being without power, cell phone service and other creature comforts with a small child would be even more strenuous than riding out a hurricane. After hearing reports of it taking upwards of 17 hours for people to get out of the state of Florida, Bri had to make the difficult decision to evacuate with Renny. Alone.
As I type this, she and Renny are driving up the state of Florida with their destination 10+ hours away. Of course, they’ll have to make stops and they’ll be faced with traffic – lots and lots of traffic, as others flee the state. It is going to be much longer than a 10-hour trip. One of my concerns for her is having access to gas. Gas stations in Florida have been running dry. It would be a nightmare for her to be stranded without gas, but I’m not going to give that a moment’s though. Positive thoughts only, right?
For me, driving 6-hours to Pennsylvania alone with Evelyn is stressful, anxiety-producing, even. And Bri is evacuating a hurricane all on her own with her soon-to-be 4 year old daughter (whose birthday is on Saturday!). Thoughts and prayers do nothing for changing the outcome of things, but they can and do soothe people’s hearts when they’re going through trying times. So please join me in sending Bri and Renny all kinds of love across the miles.
Bri wrote about this a couple days ago on her blog, Sensory Share. Have a read if you’d like. Things have changed since then, but it gives you a glimpse into life with a child with autism and how that plays a part in decision making and how it can make the upheaval and change more difficult.
UPDATE (11:45 am): Bri called, two hours away from home. Places along the highway are boarded up – restaurants and gas stations. She would have 8 hours to go on empty roads (evidently those who were going to leave have already done so) and so, she’s turning around to go back home.